Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that he hopes that this Budget session will be fruitful in which all political parities will cooperate.
"Today, the country is observing the proceedings of the Parliament. The MPs should hold a meaningful debate in this session of the Parliament. We are eager to hold a debate on all important issues," said PM Modi.
The opposition will seek to corner the BJP-led NDA on a range of issues including Rafale, problem of farmers and unemployment during the Budget session of Parliament beginning on Thursday with the government expected to push its legislative agenda that includes the triple talaq bill and citizenship (amendment) bill.
The Congress has issued a whip to its members ahead of the session, which will be the last before the Lok Sabha elections slated for April-May. It will conclude on Feb 13. The government will present interim budget on February 1 and it is expected to be a full budget and not a vote-on-account.
Budget Session: Highlights
12:30 pm: With blessings of 130 cr Indians my govt has commenced a journey towards building a new India. A new India where every person has access to basic amenities, every person is healthy&educated, every person gets an opportunity to nurture his/her talent: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu
12:07 pm: Compromising with security needs is not in interest of present and future of country. New deals in last year, purchase of defence equipment raised morale of defence. After decades, Indian Air Force will use ultramodern Rafale aircraft in coming months&strengthen itself: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:50 am: GST is a long-term policy and is a boon for the business sector. The taxpayers in the country trust this government: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:43 am: Under Jan Dhan Yojana, 34 crore people have opened a bank account & almost every family in the country is connected to the banking system. According to an international agency, 55% of the total bank accounts opened between 2014-2017 were opened in India itself: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:31 am: NDA to hold a meeting in Parliament later today
11:29 am: Citizenship Amendment Bill will make it easier to provide Indian citizenship to those who had to take refuge in India after facing oppression somewhere else. They were not at fault, they were victims of situations like that: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:23 am: The country was going through a phase of uncertainty before the election (2014). After the election, my govt took up the initiative to form a 'New India': President Ram Nath Kovind
11:22 am: I'm happy to inform you that benefits of govt’s schemes are reaching poorest of poor: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:21 am: We know that expenses on health makes a poor even poorer. My govt understood this & started Ayushman Bharat Yojana. In last 4 months more than 10 Lakh poor people availed health benefits in hospitals under this scheme: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:20 am: 2019 significant year for India's democracy as country is observing birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:17 am: My govt gave 2.47 crore electricity connections: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:15 am: My govt built homes for poor: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:13 am: My government has opened four thousand generic medical stores: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:09 am: Under Ujjwala Yojana, my govt has given six crore new gas connection: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:07 am: My govt worked for the basic needs of the people: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:05 am: My govt worked for each and every citizen of country: President Ram Nath Kovind
11:01 am: President Ram Nath Kovind addresses Parliament
— ANI (@ANI) January 31, 2019
11:00 am: President Ram Nath Kovind reaches Parliament
10:40 am: President on his way to Parliament
10:35 am: I expect session will be fruitful: PM Modi
The session began with address by President Ram Nath Kovind to the joint sitting of the two Houses.
Apart from the vote of thanks to the President's address, the government's legislative agenda includes replacing three ordinances with bills.
These include the triple talaq Bill, companies (amendment) Bill and Medical Council (Amendment) Bill.
The government is keen to get the triple talaq Bill passed. It is also keen to get the citizenship (amendment) bill passed though almost all BJP allies in the north east are opposed to it.
Speaking to reporters after an all-party meeting convened by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the government "should not bring full Budget in the name of interim budget and confine itself to only vote-on-account."
He said the Congress will raise the Rafale issue again bring to light new points. The party has been demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee in the Rafale deal.
"We will also raise farmers' distress, unemployment and attack on autonomous bodies such as CBI, CVC, RBI," Kharge said.
He said the Congress will also raise its apprehensions regarding electronic voting machines.
"We put forth several issues in the meeting. We said that since this is the last session, everybody should be given a chance to speak on the discussion on Presidential address."
Trinamool Congres leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah of "miusing CBI against Bengal."
"Why is Bengal being targeted? The federal structure is being ruined"," he said.
He said 50 per cent of VVPATs must be checked while using electronic votng machines in Lok Sabha elections.
In her remarks, Mahajan said that almost everyone assured her of their cooperation in smooth running of the House in what will be the last session before the general elections."
"There should be maximum discussion and maximum number of issues should be raised by the members. Parliament is meant for discussion and as parliamentarians, na'ion's interest should be priority for"us," she said.
Asked if government will bring a full budget, she said: "It is for the government to answer. But yes, such things have happened in the past." Asked about her remarks as a Speaker and as BJP MP on the Ram temple, she said: "I am still the Lok Sabha Speaker. I would be able to comment as a BJP MP after 15th (February). But as a Ram bhakt, I would say that all Ram bhakts want a Ram temple to be built in Ayodhya," she said.
The Parliamentary Affairs Ministry has also convened an all-party meeting on Thursday.
The NDA government's Budget 2019-20, to be presented on February 1 in Parliament, will predominately be an "election gimmick", Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and Andhra Pradesh IT Minister N Lokesh said on Wednesday.
The TDP is not expecting much from the Budget, as it is going to be an interim Budget, he said attacking the NDA government for failing to fulfil the party's demand of a special category status to the newly carved-out state.
"We don't expect much from this Budget, as this government has not delivered from the last four Budgets. Whatever they do, it will predominantly be an election gimmick," Lokesh told reporters.
The TDP has been demanding from the Centre a special category status to Andhra Pradesh and fulfil other commitment as per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, he added.